Wedding Dress Cleaning, Preservation & Restoration Blog

How to Remove Red Wine Stains Out of a Wedding Dress


How to Remove Red Wine Stains Out of a Wedding Dress

Red Wine.  Wedding Dress.  Two words that should never go together and words that can strike fear into the heart of a bride on her wedding day.  If you’re one of the unlucky brides who have experienced the unfortunate event of having wine spilled on your wedding dress during your big day, you can relax.  Whether you choose to attempt this intimidating feat yourself, or go with the peace-of-mind option of taking your dress to a professional wedding dress cleaning service, your gown can be restored back to it’s original brilliance with a little time, patience, and care.

  Important Note:  Due to the sensitive and delicate nature of the fabrics wedding dresses are crafted from, it is recommend you trust an experienced wedding dress cleaning service with removing difficult staining from your gown.  Our cleaning tips are for those who are OK with the damage that may occur when attempting to remove wine stains from their wedding dress on their own.

The Two Types of Wedding Dress Wine Stains

No, we’re not talking about Malbec vs. Cabernet.  The two types of wine stains that will determine a plan of treatment are old wine stains that have already set into the fabric, occurring days or even years in the past, and fresh wine stains that may have occurred just minutes prior with the stain still wet. 

We have heard from many brides who removed their wedding dress from the back of their closet to finally have it preserved, only to find a red wine stain they never knew was there, thinking this living memory from their most important day is ruined.  This is far from the truth and our team of fabric experts, along with our world class delicate fabric cleaning technology, have yet to come across a red wine stain that couldn’t be removed.  In fact, our team of fabric experts have removed red wine stains set in over 40 years in the past through our Wedding Gown Restoration Kit™.  It is important to note that it isn’t fresh stains or old stains that will ruin your wedding dress, it is permanent damage to the delicate fabrics, such as fraying and fabric pulls, that can ruin your dress if extreme care is not taken during the cleaning process.

remove red wine from wedding dress

Remove red wine stains and return your dress to its original brilliance

Before Anything, Check The Label on Your Wedding Dress

Understanding the fabrics your wedding dress was crafted from is key in knowing what products and techniques will be safe to use on a wine stain.  More delicate, natural fibers such as silk do not respond well to  wet formulations, leaving behind unsightly water spots after treatment, whereas synthetic fibers such as polyester are much easier to clean and can endure a lot more working of the stain.

Removing Wine Stains That Occur on the Day of Your Wedding or Reception

Quick thinking and quick action can save you additional cleaning cost and future headaches when red wine is spilled on your wedding dress during your wedding day or during your reception.  Follow these three simple steps to treat a fresh wine stain on your wedding dress.

STEP 1: Blot the Wine Stain with a White Cloth, Paper Towel, or Tissue

Have a friend find you a couple fresh white napkins or white paper towels.  The emphasis here is on the “white” as colored tissue or cloth can cause dye to bleed into your gown, making your wine stain even worse.  Start from the outside edge of the stain, to prevent the stain from spreading, and work your way to the center, being careful to “dab” the stain rather than rub it.  This will prevent the stain from further setting in and help avoid any damage to the fabric.

STEP 2: Wet a White Cloth or Paper Towel and Continue Blotting

After you feel you’ve done all you can in dabbing the stain with the dry napkin or paper towel, wet the other cloth using fresh water and continue dabbing the stain in the same fashion as you performed in step 1.  As you begin to see color on the white cloth, switch up the areas of the dampened cloth you’re dabbing with as the wine is absorbed into the cloth from your dress.

Note:  You may have heard from your mother that soda water is the best for removing stains.  This is untrue.  While club soda on a wedding dress may be invisible today, many years down the road that spot can turn into an unsightly stain.  Bottled water contains no flavoring or impurities and is the best solution in attempting to remove a stain.

Again, take care not to rub the stain, instead apply pressure and continue to dab until you feel you’ve removed all you can. 

STEP 3: Use Dishwasher Detergent to Remove Deep Set Wine Stains

If you performed step 1 and 2 without satisfying results, clear dishwashing detergent applied on the stain can help break up the organic compounds in a red wine stain. The venue of your wedding reception will most likely have an onsite kitchen with dishwashing detergent (such as dawn) readily available. 

Apply the detergent to the cloth (do not attempt on silk) and blot the stain carefully with the detergent, covering it in a very thin layer and let it sit for a while as the acidic compounds are breaking up.  You may need to repeat this step a few times if the stain is deep set, however, be sure not to overtreat the stain to avoid permanent fabric damage.

Help, I’ve Tried Everything and the Wine Stain is Still Visible!

If the wine stain is on a very visible part of your dress, such as the neckline or bodice, and you don’t want it making an ugly appearance in photos from your reception, it’s time to get creative.  Grab some baking soda or talcum power from your wedding day emergency kit or ask a waiter to retrieve some for you.  

You can use these powders in an emergency to cover up stains so your reception day photos come out beautiful and picture perfect.  Be sure to use just enough to camouflage the stain and don’t overdo it.  This is a “last resort” solution and you should definitely have your wedding dress professionally cleaned after the wedding to remove the fine residue left in the fabrics.

Does a Wine Stain Mean Your Wedding Dress Needs to Be Professionally Cleaned?

It’s important to note that even if you’re satisfied with the results of spot treating the wine stain on your wedding dress during your reception, you’ll still need to have your wedding dress professionally cleaned if you wish to keep it for future generations or sell it to another bride.  Deep cleaning your wedding dress is the only way to be sure the organic molecules of a wine stain, or any other organic stain (frosting, food, sweat, etc.), do not cause ugly future yellowing and browning of your wedding dress.

Removing Old, Set-in Wine Stains From a Wedding Dress

We get it.  Life gets busy and now that little red wine stain on your wedding dress from your wedding day is now an ugly reddish-brown eyesore on your otherwise beautiful gown.  Over the years in storage, organic stains will continue to break down causing fabric browning, and in extreme cases, can even permanently damage the fabric the stain is set into. 

We can’t even being to tell you how many e-mails and calls we get every day from frantic brides who recently cleaned out a bedroom closet, only to discover their yellowed and stained wedding dress, worn years ago.  In every case, they send in their wedding dress for assessment and our fabric experts get started in the meticulous process of removing wine and other staining and restore their beautiful wedding dress back to its original brilliance.

If you’re the DIY type and you’re not worried about damaging the delicate fabrics of your wedding dress, here are the steps you can take to remove, or at least lighten, old wine stains on a wedding dress.

STEP 1: Soak Your Wedding Dress

If you've examined the label on your wedding dress, and sensitive fabrics such as silk are not listed, soaking your wedding dress in a clean (well rinsed) bathtub with cool water can help loosen the wine stain, making removal much easier.  It’s usually safe to add a few tablespoons of a powder stain remover such as Oxy Clean to the water to help speed up the process.

STEP 2: Gently Spot Clean with a Hydrogen Peroxide, Dish Soap Solution

After a good few hours of soaking (4-6 hours), examine the wine stain to check the condition.  Most likely, additional treatment will be needed to fully remove the stain.  You may have heard through your Great Aunt Edna that Dawn Dish Soap and Hydrogen Peroxide forms a miracle solution.  We can confirm they’re correct.   Combine 2 parts hydrogen peroxide and 1 part Dawn dish soap in a small bowl and mix with a spoon to combine (Again, this is not for sensitive fabrics such as silk!). Blot the solution into the stain and let sit for a few minutes.  Rinse, examine the stain, and repeat in no more than 3 applications to avoid damaging the fabrics. 

STEP 3: Rinse and Let Dry

Once you’re satisfied with the results, use clean water to thoroughly rinse the detergent and hydrogen peroxide solution.  Drape your wedding dress over several hangers and let it air dry.  Do not allow your wedding dress to dry in direct sunlight and remember, your wedding dress will be very heavy from the soaking so you don’t want your dress hanging off the shoulder straps alone.

Most Importantly, Remember Not to Freak Out!

No bride desires to be “That Bride” on her wedding day, freaking out in front of her guests about a little wine stain during the most memorable day and night of her life.  Today’s modern delicate fabric cleaning technology, combined with our experienced team of fabric experts, can get out virtually any stain left behind during your wedding day.  Your number one job on your wedding day should be making memories, connecting with friends and family, and having the time of your life, not being crippled with worry or anxiety about something that may stain your wedding dress.